Chapter 138: A Chaotic Battlefield (3)

Although adopting an ally’s strategy for the battlefield was a good thing, stealing the results of that strategy was a serious problem.

“Still, aren’t you also a member of the staff like us? But you don’t have anything to say?”

Faced with the other’s censure and reproach, David responded timidly.

“I’m sorry. I’m not very good…”

“Why the hell are you even here?”

“That’s um…His Excellency the Fuhrer appointed me as your contact… I’m sorry.”

Unable to even make eye contact as he babbled nonsense, David was the epitome of incompetence and servility. 

“Tsk, if you’re going to be like this, don’t participate in this war as an officer; go hold a spear and serve as a soldier. That’d be more helpful.”

“I’m sorry. Please, not that…”

“Huh…”

 Another officer spoke up as the first continued to look at David with displeasure.

“Don’t bother with him too much. It's not like he’s being bothersome, is he?”

“Hmph. He’s no different from a wallflower.”

With that said, the first officer no longer cared about David. No, to be more precise, he didn’t want to be associated with an incompetent and inferior man like David any longer. 

Instead, he directed his attention to the rest of the gathered officers.

“Perhaps, the enemy is waiting for us to attack first.”

“Waiting for an attack?”

“That’s right. Although Milton Forrest is an enemy, he’s very resourceful and clever. There’s no way such a person is killing time without a purpose. He’s most likely preparing a trap while waiting for us to attack first.”

“Hm… that makes sense.”

“He’s not an enemy to underestimate.”

When all the other officers made sounds of agreement, he continued to speak.

“This is a battle of patience. If we got impatient and moved first, it’d be a big disadvantage for us. Let’s keep in mind that time is on our side and wait for the enemy while keeping our troops in their formation. The enemy will definitely attack.”

“You’re right. Time is on our side.”

“That’s a brilliant idea.”

David thought to himself as he watched the officers come to a conclusion. 

Forget rations, even letting them breathe in the oxygen is a waste. What dumbass bastards.’

***

Two days since the two armies confronted each other. 

A grim message was delivered to the Republican Army. 

“What? 10,000 troops are running rampant in the North?”

“Yes, sir. It’s said that the enemy’s momentum is too strong that it’s difficult to stop them.”

The officers were stunned at the messenger’s report. Although they had gathered most of their troops here in order to stop Milton, that didn’t mean they left the North completely unprotected. How could the North be this helpless?

“Who is the enemy?”

“They said it is Princess Violet of Florence Principality, sir.”

“Princess Violet? Then you mean the troops are Florence of Principality’s men? Weren’t they in the East and fighting against our allies?”

From what the officers knew, Florence Principality was in charge of the confrontation against the Kobrook Republic after Milton had retreated. 

So how could Princess Violet appear in the North?

“Then what about the East? Do you mean that the enemies left it empty?”

“That hasn’t been confirmed yet, sir. However…”

“How is that possible? They captured and then abandoned our Kobrook Republic’s defense line? Do you know how strong and stable that defense line is?”

The Kobrook Republic’s officer was devastated. How many troops had the Strabus Kingdom mobilized over the years to capture that defense line? Yet, Milton had captured it so miraculously(?). Just the fact that Milton had broken through the Kobrook Republic’s defense line was enough to increase the value of Milton Forrest. When they saw Milton working hard to stabilize the occupied areas after he captured the defense line, they all thought the same thing — even Milton Forrest knows how important it is to completely seize that line of defense. So how could he abandon the defense line he had just taken over? It was unimaginable. There had to be a limit to boldness, how could he do this?

“What should we do, sir? Should we send troops to the North?”

“L… let’s wait. Do you mean to say we should fight Milton Forrest with less troops? The enemy isn’t that simple.”

“But if the Northern side is captured, then we have to fight the enemy in their territory while our supplies are cut off. It means that if we do something wrong, all 100,000 Republican troops could be destroyed.”

The officers debated different opinions.  Truthfully, it was difficult for them to deal with Milton Forrest. During this war, Milton had made remarkable accomplishments that raised his reputation even further. Soon, everyone realized the same thing.

Siegfried of the Republic.

Milton Forrest of the Monarchy.

The two of them were the ace cards of either side. 

While the officers were debating the merits of sending half the army to the North, another messenger arrived with additional information.

“A Master appeared amidst the 10,000 troops that appeared in the North. The Master’s name is Jerome Taker, sir.”

The impact of this information was enormous to the Republican Army.

“Jerome Taker? You mean Milton Forrest’s right-hand?”

“Oh sh… maybe?”

“Maybe what?”

“What if Milton Forrest isn’t really confronting us? What if he’s the bait to hold us back and the real main force is the 10,000 troops invading from the North?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m saying that Milton Forrest might have used himself as bait to make us gather all our forces here while he sent 10,000 elite soldiers to invade from the North.”

“Ha… But would 10,000 troops be of any use? There are 50,000 Hildes Republican troops currently aiming to attack the Lester Kingdom. Even if they have a Master…”

“You’re all so frustrating. If they can invade the North, then we’re most likely in danger since they’ll have another plan to threaten us with.”

The others were startled by those words.

“No way, you mean they’re aiming for the mainland of the Hanovirtue Republic?”

“That’s right. With the collapse of the Northern Front and fewer troops, it’s the perfect opportunity for our enemies to aim for our heart.”

“I still think we can stop 10,000 troops. Not to mention, don’t we also have the recently converted Duke O’Brian?”

“How frustrating… disregarding whether we win or lose, if another battle takes place on the Northern Front, the supply line will stop.”

“Huh?!”

“What…?”

The other officers looked alarmed. 

“We have 100,000 men right now. How long do you think we can keep all 100,000 men without supply? One month? Half a month? Within two weeks, we’ll be seeing the effects of the cut supply line.”

If there was one situation that had to be avoided the most during a war, it was a situation where   there weren’t enough rations. Whether it was 100,000 or 1,000,000 troops, neither were frightening if they were starving. Instead, the bigger the army, the more difficult it was to maintain the supply line and the more importance it played. 

“Do you think that’s what he was waiting for? Was he waiting for his right hand to cut off the supply line in the North and for that effect to be revealed?”

One of the officers spoke up as if he had realized what Milton’s intentions were. The others around him agreed to his reasoning. 

“It’s too dangerous. This… we’re at a disadvantage.”

“Let’s think about that first and create a plan.”

David ridiculed them as he watched the officers talking noisily. 

‘They’re playing completely on the palm of his hand.’

Even if the enemy waged war in the North, it was doubtful whether the supply line would completely collapse. It would be difficult to fight hard enough to interfere with the supply line with only 10,000 troops. In addition, even if the supply line did collapse, they currently had enough provisions to last at least a week. In which case, the first thing they should do is fight the enemy and see how they react. Only after seeing the enemy’s reaction should they decide what to do next. But the officers in front of David’s eyes were…

What if we did that?

What if we did this?

Oh, this is a big problem. What should we do?

‘Are you all children?’

In David’s eyes, the officers had completely lost their rationality. They were afraid to deal with the person named Milton Forrest. They were also burdened by the fact they were leading 100,000 men in a war that dealt with the destiny of the Republics. If you compared the military to the human body, the officers would be the head. If the head loses confidence and gets flustered, then no matter how strong the military was, its power and strength would be reduced to less than half. 

“First, let’s retreat with the entire army. We wouldn’t get the results we want if we tried to block both armies at the same time.” 

“That’s right. Our priority should be to ensure that the supply lines to the North don't get cut off.”

“You’re right. I feel a bit sorry for the Hildes Republic, but it seems like this is the limit. I don’t think we can continue to hold Milton Forrest back.”

The conclusions that they ultimately came up with was to have the entire army retreat. 

David smiled as he watched them. 

‘Everything went as My Lord expected.’

Siegfried had told David in advance that this would happen. But just in case, David had been tasked with remaining with the rest of the Republican Army and reporting if anything changed. However, he hadn’t needed to. After all, everything went as Siegfried said.

‘Even if I stayed here longer, there’s nothing else for me to do.’

David thought it was time for him to leave these frustrating rockheads.

***

Exactly three days later. 

It was the morning after the third day as Viscount Sabian had promised. Until yesterday, the Republican Army had maintained a solid battle formation in front of them, but now, it had disappeared. It seemed like they had quickly retreated using the dark night as cover. Viscount Sabian smiled at Milton after he was informed of the situation by a messenger.

“It’s exactly three days later, My Lord.”

“Hm… Didn’t you say on the third day?”

“I said after three days, My Lord.”

“Really? You sure about that?”

“Yes, sir. I’m sure.”

“…tsk.”

Milton handed Viscount Sabian a pouch full of gold.

“Thank you, My Lord.”

“Who knew you’d be that accurate.”

The knights surrounding them realized what was going on as they watched Milton muttering.

‘They bet on it.’

Either way, the road was open. For three days, they had only confronted the enemies without fighting them, but the enemies had moved out of the way on their own. Milton admired Viscount Sabian’s tactics of playing with the enemies on the palm of his hand.

‘Was he always like this? No, he wasn’t this good before.’

Although Milton absolutely trusted Viscount Sabian’s competence, even Milton realized that recently, Viscount Sabian had reached a new level. After he was defeated in the siege of Litinque Castle, Viscount Sabian’s resourcefulness and cleverness had improved as a result of self-reflection.

‘Both Sabian and Jerome are getting better and better…’

Recently, Milton had been feeling strange as he watched the two improve from the battles. He knew and believed in their loyalty, however, Milton felt there was a pressure for him to become a Lord who wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of his two very competent servants. 

Recently, the fact that Siegfried was a Master played a big role in the pressure. Although Milton was very close to becoming a Master, he had been experiencing stagnation for the past year.

“My Lord, what are you thinking about?”

“No, it’s nothing… Then, we’ll proceed as planned.”

“Yes, My Lord.”

‘Let’s focus on the war that’s in front of me first.’

And so, the army led by Milton marched to the Western part of the Strabus Kingdom. 

***

Attacking and being attacked in the scuffle.

This war, later to be called the First Ideological Conflict, was a complete mess. The defense lines of the Kobrook Republic fell and the northern border of the Strabus Kingdom collapsed. With the Lester Kingdom’s counterattack, half of the Hildes Republic was invaded. Siegfried was leading the Hildes Republic forces through the Western part of the Strabus Kingdom in order to attack the defenseless Lester Kingdom. Milton was entering the Western part of the Strabus Kingdom in order to pursue Siegfried. 

The Northern Central region of the continent had always been noisy because of the Republic’s existence, but this time, it was particularly chaotic. The Southern countries predicted the borders would go through significant change once the war was over. At the core of this was Milton chasing after Siegfried. The entire continent felt the two men, who had played a prominent role in this war, would be clashing soon and pay much attention to them. Everyone knew that the clash of these two would determine the outcome of the war. When and where would they clash? The other countries watched the situation keenly with bated breath. 

However, the war proceeded in a completely different direction than what they predicted. 

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